In 1980 a 21-year-old girl by the name of Maya Lin entered a competition to design a Vietnam Veterans Memorial. With her “Monet”-like sketches and an essay that had to do more with the people in the war than the politics surrounding it she was competing against 1,441 other designers…and won! At such a young age Maya had a profound idea of death and its link to architecture and built form. With so many of the competing designers pieces focusing on specific imagery of the war or symbols of America, Maya managed to encompass the entire war and all those who fought in it with a simple yet remarkable design. Her reasoning behind listing all the names of the fallen soldiers the way that she did is something to take note of:
“The cost of war is these individuals and we have to remember them first. […] You have to accept and admit that this pain has occurred in order for it to be healed, in order for it to be cathartic.”
By creating a design where the names are listed in chronological order rather than alphabetical it adds that extra element of appreciation for each individual. As she mentioned at one point, by looking up the day in which a loved one or friend died and being able to walk up and look for it on the wall amongst the surrounding names is something a lot more special and precious. The panel deciding on the winner could have chosen any other design with the expected symbol of freedom but instead they picked this simplistic design that was dedicated to sacrifice. Overall, that is what the result of war truly is…the sacrifice that one makes by putting their life on the line. The names carved into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial couldn’t be a more real reminder of the sacrifices made during such a horrendous war.